SF’s New Plan to Get Homeless Families Off the Streets

SF’s new plan to get homeless families off the streets


In one of the wealthiest cities in the world, these are startling statistics.


There are 1,303 homeless families in San Francisco’s public schools with a total of 2,097 children, more than double the total nine years ago. Fifteen families, including 20 children, live in tents or cars on the city’s streets.


Mayors and supervisors have long prioritized solving homelessness for single adults — those grizzled guys we see every day with their cardboard signs and shopping carts — because they’re far more visible and bothersome to residents and tourists. Families are fewer, hidden away and easier to ignore.

That’s changing under San Francisco’s new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, which by next summer will have a new way of dealing with family homelessness. The goal is that by 2020, every family in San Francisco that becomes homeless will be housed within 90 days.


The short-term goal is to ensure that those families living in the most dire of conditions — tents and cars — get immediate access to emergency shelter. Those with a roof over their heads, such as a motel room or a relative’s house, will get help finding stable housing while bypassing emergency shelter.


There also will be one data system holding the family’s information and one entry point for services. Currently, families bounce around among government agencies and nonprofits, telling their often traumatic stories up to 15 times before getting help. There are three data systems that store their information, and it isn’t shared.


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